The whole debate on college fees seems to have reared its head again this week with Batman insinuating that he wants them back in. For me, free education is a must but what I dont like are the arguements coming from the knobs that run the Union on Students in Ireland (I always thought they were knobs).
They are saying that its already tight enough for students and adding fees will only mean that less people can afford to go to college.
I left college in June 1996. Only 12 years ago.
We had no mobile phones. Only those working in very well paid jobs or that came from well-enough of families had cars. We only bought clothes when we needed them. We drank cheap shite at home before going out and only went to clubs that had student offers. We could rarely afford to go out on Saturday nights, you had TV via a clothes hanger and usually there were 5 or more to a 2-bed flat. Getting your hair cut once a month was a huge treat (if indeed you done it once a month and even then it was done during cheapo times and in cheapo places). And the inside of a coffee shop was like visiting the Starship Enterprise as you had as much chance of going to both. We ate spuds and bolognese 7 days a week.
Now new clothes are an absolute with image being paramount and therefore new hair when required. Theres not enough room in the carparks for all the cars (and the insurance, tax, petrol, maintenance that goes with them) for the students. They are getting so leathered out drinking that we have new closing and serving times (apparently its the young's fault). And they all have mobile phones and therefore probably a new one each year and around €20 per week on credit?
Dont tell me they have no money. Dont tell me that adding some fees will stop people going to college. If they give up their cars - get up earlier and walk or use public transport - then we solve some traffic issues in cities and it also saves them some money. Give up their mobiles or use less frequently then there would be more money. But dont tell me they have no money.
In 1996, the grant was about £160 per month. My rent was £25 per week to share a bedroom with one other, in a 5 bed house (8 of us all in). I had £60 per month for food, travel (college in Carlow, from Donegal) once a month and going out. My parents gave me about £40 per month once the summer money I had earned had run out and so all in all, I had about £100 to live on.
I wonder how students would get buy on this and to give an idea I decided to see how much that is worth nowadays and took the price of Guinness as the basis for inflation.
According to this site, the average price of Guinness in 1996 was €2.50 and in 2007 it was €4.03. That means an adjustment of 62%.
Covert £100 to Euros using 1.23 as the exchange rate (what it was when we changed from punts to euros) and that gives us €123. Multiply by inflation gives €199 or about €50 per week.
Is that do-able with a once a month bus ticket worth €40 removed from the funds?? It cost around €25 per week for food to cover breakfast, lunch and dinner. That leaves about €50 per month for recreational items...its tough - right?
Anyone up to the challenge???